Tuesday, April 19, 2016
New York and beyond.
In my last post nearly three weeks ago, I finished with a promise to report before the New York primary, a promise which I have sadly broken. The polls clearly said Trump and Clinton were the favorites and the early results vindicate the opinion polls. The races next week are in the Northeast and Trump looks like a prohibitive favorite in most of them, as does Clinton. I now promise a report before next Tuesday evening and I will feel like a heel if I break two promises in a row.
As for Trump's race to get 1,237 pledged delegates before the convention in Cleveland, I don't have confidence that my system can give an accurate read on that goal.
Currently, I'm reading The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin, a multiple person biography of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, the publisher Sam McClure and several of his writers. I must admit that for all I have read, Trump is still a mystery to me and I am grasping for comparisons.
Is Trump like TR? The simplest answer is superficially yes and fundamentally no, but I am personally terrified about what a superficial age we live in. Both Trump and Roosevelt are sons of successful New York families, but Roosevelt's family history crushes Trump's on every level. They both are at a level of celebrity that is hard to imagine. It's hard to pin down the date when it started, but Teddy Roosevelt is the most famous American of his era by a wide margin and the absolute latest date you can give for the beginning of this unparallelled fame is the charge up San Juan Hill. Trump is not the most famous American - fame is scattered in many more directions now than it was more than a century ago - but his fame was enough for him to far surpass the field of politicians and non-politicians who tried to become the Republican nominee for president this year.
After we concede the similar levels of fame, Roosevelt looks like a colossus and Trump a shrimp the size of his stubby little fingers. Roosevelt measures his manhood in strenuous activity, personal relationships, physical bravery that borders on the clinically insane and the joy of being in the arena. Trump uses the Sam Malone yardstick, counting the number of fabulous babes he has bagged. Beyond the manliness differences, Roosevelt really did love reading and the world of ideas, where Trump appears to have coasted ever since doing very well at Wharton Business School. Let us remember the words of the governor in O Brother Where Art Thou?: "We MASS communicatin' now!" As a manipulator of media, Trump understands the game as played in the early 21st Century extremely well. Roosevelt had to do his campaigning retail, and the stories of him shaking the hands of railroad men and shipworkers and giving them stories they would tell their grandchildren brought tears to my eyes several times.
So Trump isn't Roosevelt, he can't even be found in the shadow of Roosevelt. Is he possibly Reagan?
My best guess is no. Like Reagan, he does seem covered in Teflon, but given the demographics of the era, that shouldn't be nearly enough. Like Reagan, he has made statements that erase his more liberal past. Trump speaks to the core Republican voter because he truly does hate Obama, but that can backfire if Clinton is even slightly politically savvy, which she most certainly is.
I could go on and on, but this would just get closer to punditry and farther away from math every sentence I would write. I'll do my best to do something mathy before next Tuesday. If you want a "prediction", it's Hillary vs. The Donald barring some very nasty mess, and if that's the race, Trump has to Climb Everest without a guide or oxygen and with his stumpy little fingers trying to grip the crampons. The second President Clinton is the most likely result at this point.